Censorship In Michigan Prisons
By: Uacino Hamilton
Today, another book was rejected. The fifth time in the past two mocks this has happened. All because the book wasn't soot from an "approved vondor." To the unlnformsd public such a requirement may appear on its face rsssonahls, tho Michigan department of Corrsctions should control whore information prisoners are rocsiving is coming from, and what that information is. But in practice, its a form of censorship. A policy that proves to he one of many cfforts to pcnvant the Flou: of lnformatlon into gnrlsnns tumtar tho ﬂwonry that it is easier to control an ignorant population, than one iﬁwat is lnfnrmnd.
I hams mode rsfswonna to “His Orwellian policy in both conversation and writings before, but its important to explain more in dopth so people on the outside will understand tho importance of joining the struggls to ond censorship in U.S. prisons.
Many people who wore incarcerated in the 19605 and 19705 in Michigan hocams politically awaken through books. There was s focus on rssding and writing and publishing that was :3 crucial intervention bocauss it helped lay the groundwork for a prison cultural context where the dsvslopmsnt of political consciousness could ho ldontlfisd as a personal and political nscsssity. It promoted dlaloguo, dobatc, dialectical sxchsngc, 2 raising of omarsnoss, and an atmosphere of independent thinking. what the Michigan Department of Corrections, and many other DOCS throughout the country began to do, was systematically restrict access to a broad range of topics and authors who more often critical of the sconomic and political suporstructurs soon as the roal reason for the dramatic increase in the prisoner population. while at the some tims flooding prisons with books and litorsturs hssod on tho holisf that tho chisf concern of prisonors should ho psrsonal rcsponsihility and accountability. Information that rsinforcod conssrvstivs and nso-lihsral loops omphasizlng pathology snd lock of uork~ othic for tho rsasons for all thslr woos.
Docility and conformity more the models lncsrcsratod poppls mhoro invitod to smbrocs. To movs away from tho notion of self-sducstion and rssistancs that had boon at tho core of rsading and writing while in prison, to look for tho dopsrtmsnt to provide information that was nine times out of ton required reading and mastering in order to rscsivs a yaarols, or privilsgss that significantly reduce the amount of strsss and pain sxpcrioncod during incsrcoration.
For incorporated msn snd woman rsodlng isn't just about math and scisncs or occupying time. It's about dlscovsry, and, shovs all, imagination. ways to come face to facs with ideas, cxpsricncss, omotions, and tho lsrgsr socloty.
Thsrofors, what may appear to ho a rsasonshls policy actually limits tho opportunity to dovslop critical thinking skills and provsnt opportunltlos to bscoms moro socially sngsgsd.
Dbviausly tha many raatricﬁimhs placed on racaiving banks and literature dues mat completely prevent sglf-development, some incarcerated ﬁ&ﬂplﬁ manage tn do the virtually impossible. But the difficultims are such that self-educated critically thinking incarcerated gemplm ara hardmr to coma by tmday than in times past. And that is exactly the raasmn why tha Mimhigan dapartment of Cnrrectimns makes it SO difficult ta abtain raading materiala.
Its hat my aim tn suggast spacifically what banks and literature should he allmwed in U.S. jails and mviauns, rathgr that nothing of aducafional at peramnal valua shmuld he rahtricted. I stress this because aeventy garment mf tha men and wmman who enter priaan do an withmut as much as a high schmml diplmma hr G.E.D. The parcanﬁaga ia wven higher far thmae amtaring prismm withwut basic understanding 0? raca, gander, class, ahxualiﬁy, ham thw acmhnmy mmrkﬁ, and mﬁhar paramnal idenﬁifiars and dmmagraphics that era vitally impmrtaht in as many aspacts Q? everyday life. while the Michigan Dapartment mf Carrectimh's ”apprmved vandmr” pmlicy is thﬁ maat effective tmml ta date in cansoring reading materials, it isn't the only mna. The point of this assay 13 to incrmaae awareness ﬁhat litaracy invalvea more than just phmnics, apalling, vmcahulary, and zuell grmmvad reading habits. Eiteracy alas requiras spacific haskgrmund knmwledge abmuf ideas, axperiencea, and tvaditimns cammmn tm us all by virtue mf mur mamharship in the human family at a particular mmment ih histmry. and it requirhs amce$s ta 5 hrmad rmhgm mf infmrmatimh frmm a varihty hf parsphctivaa and pmlitical mriantatimns.
Eacinm Hamiltmm, 2h731U
Thumb Cmrrectimnal Facility
3225 Jmhn Hanlay Dr. hangar, MI AS446
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